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Solid Edge ST 6 First Look: Mass-Migrating Models From SolidWorks

By Jeffrey Heimgartner, October 31, 2013

For this First Look article, I will be looking at the Bulk Data Migrator, which was expanded in ST6. This utility's new job is to move entire libraries of SolidWorks files into Solid Edge, including assemblies with all parts intact. Its purpose is to make it easier for customers to switch their offices from SolidWorks to Solid Edge - or to make it easier for Solid Edge users to work with clients who still employ SolidWorks and other MCAD systems.

Based on what Siemens PLM wrote in their What's New in Solid Edge ST6? factsheet, the utility "simplifies migration of competitive data to speed adoption of a stable CAD platform while protecting intellectual property." I decided to check out the claims.

First Bulk Migrator for SolidWorks

Siemens PLM has provided bulk data migrators for other MCAD packages, such as Inventor and Pro/E. This, however, is the first time that Solid Edge migrates SolidWorks data.

The SolidWorks Data Migration Wizard assists with the migration of SolidWorks parts, assemblies, and drawings (see figure 1).

Figure 1: Starting the SolidWorks Data Migration wizard

I tried using the wizard without assistance, but soon failed. Siemens PLM technical support pointed me to the documentation stored in the Solid Edge folder on my computer. See Solid Edge ST 6 > Data Migration > Getting Started in figure 2. The docs walked me through the set up process, getting it up and running.

Figure 2: Accessing the documentation

Starting the SolidWorks Data Migration

To get the data migration process to work, the first thing that I needed to do was share the folder in which the SolidWorks files were stored. (This is what caused me to stumble without the documentation.) The share needs to be a full-control share of that folder. The files to migrate must reside on the same computer as SolidWorks. For this article, I chose a folder containing SolidWorks files for a trade show monitor stand we had designed.

Next, I opened the SolidWorks Data Migration Wizard, and then on the Start Page filled in the fields with appropriate data:

Figure 3: Selecting the shared folder

Selecting SolidWorks Files

After filling in of the fields of the Start Page and clicking Next, the SolidWorks File Selection Page came up (see figure 4).

Figure 4: Selecting SolidWorks files for migration

The pane on the left side lists the names of all files available for migration. Part, assembly, and drawing files can all be migrated from SolidWorks to Solid Edge. I chose Add All and selected Next.

Before the migration began, however, the wizard gave me the opportunity to save the changes I made to a configuration file - either the existing one or to a new one (see Figure 5). I chose to create a new configuration file.

Figure 5: Saving changes to the configuration file

I selected Finish, and the migration began.

The Migration Process

The migration process for my 30-some files took just under ten minutes. During migration, the utility opened SolidWorks and then began cycling through each part – and saving them as DXF files! I watched the status of the migration in the SolidWorks Data Migration dialog box shown in figure 6.

Figure 6: SolidWorks Data Migration dialog box reporting results

When the migration was complete, I closed the dialog box and then opened Solid Edge so I could inspect the results. Would the translation be any good?

The Results

All of the parts and assemblies for my monitor stand came through into Solid Edge. All of the intelligence in my models was retained, such as assembly relations, hole features, pattern recognition, part material, and alternate positions (see figure 7).

Right away, I was able to start modifying items, using what Siemens PLM calls Synchronous Technology, which basically integrates both direct modeling and feature-history modeling.

Figure 7: Monitor stand assembly opened In Solid Edge

SolidWorks-like UI

In addition to bulk importing MCAD models from other systems, customizable themes let me adjust the Solid Edge user interface to one that I am more familiar with (like SolidWorks), which increased my ability to start using the new software effectively right away.

The Command Finder allows me to type in commands using terminology with which I am familiar, and then presented me with the associated matches in Solid Edge.

Conclusion

Companies do change from one CAD system to another. Reasons vary: lower cost, better ease of use, more robust features... or executive decision. Regardless of the reason, migrating past CAD data from one system to another increases the cost, time, and frustration of a changing of CAD systems.

Solid Edge's Bulk Data Manager can make such a change much easier. It ensures a quick and accurate way to transfer old SolidWorks data into Solid Edge. Once I got it up and running, I was impressed at how user-friendly and simple the process was.

The ability to re-use existing data is a significant benefit for companies looking to transition to new software. I think Solid Edge has done a good job of creating tools that give companies the ability to do so.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Heimgartner has over 20 years of industry experience. He manages Advanced Technical Services for CapStone's CAD division. He has a bachelor's degree in Industrial Technology with an emphasis in CAD from Wayne State College in Wayne, Nebraska. More...

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